Anniversary of the Thrisis

I don’t believe in magic and I must admit that there are times when I (a self-professed dreamer) am not even certain there’s such a thing as fate. But there I was at the local library—in the middle of “Fiction K-M”—hoping and praying that the right book would miraculously pop out in front of me, making it’s life-altering, earth-shattering presence known.

Unfortunately, it was not to be… admittedly, as a graphic designer as well as would-be writer, I DO judge books by their covers and nothing was grabbing me. Though I did leave with some lovely, conciliatory parting gifts in the form of an Ernest Hemingway documentary on DVD and an Annie Proulx novel I’d never heard of before.

I’d gone to my local library under the guise of obtaining a card and becoming a registered voter in my new county of residence. Though truthfully I was there for some much-needed inspiration. Wandering amidst endless titles of some brilliant and some not-so-brilliant works of literature, I had hoped that somehow some “Word Magic” would rub off.

You see, today, June 28th, is the one-year anniversary of “Woman In Thrisis” and I had hoped to have something genius and inspired to share for the anniversary entry! But alas, these days I have been cheating on my blog with Linked In, Indeed, Google Maps and Monster.com in order to secure full-time, PAID employment… and I fear that all of the rejection and searching is zapping my creative energy.

So, however uninspired this may be right nowJune 28, 2012… I felt a Happy Birthday wish was in order anyway! It truly has been an amazing and fun ride so far. I have connected with so many great people all over the world as a result and feel that I have created a tiny corner of cyber space to inhabit and share my musings.

As for this first year “By the Numbers” (not that it matters as much as it IS nice to record)… I have written 195 posts, grabbed (and desperately hope to keep) 180 faithful followers. The blog has been viewed over 43,500 times and had the blissful honor of being “Freshly Pressed” once.

With the big 4-0 sitting out there on the distant (but not nearly distant ENOUGH) horizon, a few years from now… a name change for “Woman In Thrisis” will most likely be in order. But until then… fingers crossed that I will find as much joy and fufillment in year two as I have in this one.

Thanks for tuning in everyone!

Rats, Lies and Capybaras

I like to think that I can spot a phony when I see one or smell a sham a mile away. However, drawn in by his lopsided, glossy, poster board and magic marker sign containing lofty promises of pure zoological freakdom, I somehow failed to do so.

Handing over my money to the toothless, mulleted man, I walked halfway into the dimly-lit tent and spotted the object of my search. It was then and there—partially down the pathway, blocking traffic—I stopped dead in my tracks, turned swiftly on my heels and called him out.

“Excuse me!” I shouted backwards toward the way I’d come. “This is NOT a RAT. It is a CAPYBARA! I just saw one of these on the National Geographic channel! Your sign is a big, fat lie.” I declared with an air of superiority that I A. knew what a capybara actually WAS and B. at the notion of exposing him for the liar that he obviously was.

“No ma’am,” he said with a hillbilly drawl. “I ain’t lyin’. I told ya’ll it’d be like watchin’ the National Geographic channel LIIIIIIVE!” he hollered back with extra enthusiastic emphasis placed on the long “I” in ‘live’ for full effect.

I’d been duped. I’d fallen prey to the circus sideshow sales pitch and been fooled. I had drunk the Kool-Aid and was now exactly $3 poorer than I was before ever stepping foot in the place. But before I go on and on about my deep disappointment upon feeling cheated, let me take you back to the beginning…

It was a hot, summer night in southern Ohio and four of us gals on a weekend-warrior-retreat had decided to leave our wilderness cabin and check out the nearest municipality. Logan, Ohio (population 7,152) is the county seat of Hocking County — an area rich with natural and geological wonders that draws tourists from all over the country who come to explore beautiful Hocking Hills State Park.

And on this particular summer night, as we happened to be passing through, Logan just happened to be having their Annual Washboard Music Festival complete with sweet-and-fatty fair food, face-painting booths, colorful characters peddling their wares, an obnoxious train ride for the young ‘uns and a sampling of carnival games.

Immediately at the front entrance of the street fair, I was confronted by a large sign announcing the presence of the “World’s Largest Rat.” Oh yes, just on the other side of the canvas walls of the shiftiest-looking tent I’d ever seen was a whopping 100-lb. rat… and I HAD to see it.

I’d left my purse at the cabin so I tugged on the arm of one of my girlfriends with all of the gusto of a six-year-old harboring a wicked hankering for some cotton candy. I begged her to not only pay my way, but to go inside WITH me so as not to be alone in my curious-on-the-verge-of-hysterical, idiotic stupor.

She obliged and we wandered in. And you know the rest. But the reason for my great disappointment was that I had SOOOO hoped to see an enormous, 100-lb. RAT, fully outfitted with soft grey fur, a long thick pink tail, shiny black eyes the size of golf balls, a wiggly nose, teeth like a lioness and whiskers the length of a yard stick.

I was NOT expecting to see something that although IN the rodent FAMILY… did not look like anything remotely close to a giant sewer rat capable of terrorizing the subways of Manhattan.

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure who to be more angry with… Myself for being so stupid as to think that this awesome freak of nature would actually be in Logan, OH (population 7,152)… Or Mullet Man who sold me on the idea with his flashy, homemade signs and toothless grin?

Now some of you might be saying: “Joanna, it WAS a giant rodent… to-MA-to, to-MAW-to. Why can’t you just let it go?” But I simply CANNOT let it go, at least not until I’ve told my story and shared with you my much-deserved feelings of deception, anger and disillusionment at the crooked capitalist empire that is the carnival sideshow industry.

And if, per chance, the “World’s Largest Rat” should pay a visit to a small, hick-town community near you… You’ve been warned. Hang on to your money and consider this your cautionary “tail.”

This is a rat.

THIS is a capybara. Note: It is NOT a rat.

Just Won”DER”ing

Yesterday, after spending a day up north to take care of some family business, Lee and I returned to Columbus by way of Amish Country to mix things up. I know, I know… you’re probably wondering: Exactly HOW boring IS your life that Amish Country was a jazzy, new option? And you’re probably right. But that is beside the point because yesterday it WAS a viable option. And it did not disappoint. In fact, it proved to be quite refreshing and entertaining.

While driving 35 MPH across steep and winding roads through half a dozen quaint little burgs with equally quaint names like Sugarcreek, Walnut Creek and Charm—dodging buggies and bicycles the entire way—we made an interesting observation about the local marketing techniques.

Those techniques being the placing of the words: “Der” and “Ye Olde” in front of every, single “Amish” business that we passed. A couple of examples are: “Der Furniture Market” and “Ye Olde Fudge Shoppe.” Now, I’m certain that all of these businesses were not actually owned and operated by Amish people, but for the sake of moving the largest amount of goods possible to Bob and Betty America from North Dakota, this scheme must be proving successful to a degree.

Driving along, windows down and inquisitive stares hidden behind sunglasses, we couldn’t help but wonDER… (and giggle wildly as we did as we did so) Does placing these words in front of every business name in “Amish Country” really increase patronage? If it does, why didn’t we pass Der Burger King, Ye Olde Wal-Marte, Der Dollar General, Ye Olde Marathon Station or Der Dunkin Donuts… just to name a few?

And yes, it IS that fun to place those words in front of every business. Perhaps that’s an indictment on our character or simply a demonstration of the measure of boredom we were feeling during a 3-hour car ride… I really don’t care. We managed to entertain ourselves as we laughed hysterically while throwing it in front of everything we passed. If you don’t believe me — give it a try on your next road trip.

P.S. Initially I feared offending anyone who IS Amish that might come across this post, but then I remembered… If you’re Amish, you’re probably not reading this anyway.

“Men Don’t Make Passes…

… at girls who wear glasses.”

Isn’t that how the saying goes?

“Awwwww man!” I cried out from beneath the golden glow of the living room lamp. “It looks better. Damn.” Wondering what all the fuss was about Lee yelled out to me from the computer room.

“Isn’t that what they are for, Joanna?” he questioned in a slightly exasperated but still inquisitive tone. “Aren’t your new glasses supposed to make things clearer for you?”

“YEEEEESSSSSSSSS. But only for when I’m toiling away in front of THAT thing all day long.” I groaned, while stomping into the room he was in and making wild gestures toward the computer screen. “They weren’t supposed to be for reading too. The doctor said so. He said that I was mildly far-sighted and that the ONLY time I needed to use them was while sitting at the computer. Do you KNOW what this latest development MEANS!?!” I whined.

“That you need glasses? That you’re eyes are going bad?” Lee said in a teasing manner.

“Well, yes… THAT. But it actually means that I AM GETTING OLD. When you first liked me, I was a mere kitten at 17… with perfect vision. Now look at the version you’ve got. I’m getting old.” Defeated, I lumbered out of the room—shoulders slumpled, glasses in hand—and plopped down cross-legged in the recliner. As I slid the glasses back onto my face I thought to myself… At least I can still cross my legs under me. That’s something. Isn’t it?

I pretended to read but what I was actually doing was studying the backs of my hands and the tops of my thighs… assessing them for similar signs of wear and tear like my eyes are apparently beginning to show. Thiiiiis is how it starts… I said to myself. First it’s the eyes, then it’s something else.

After awhile of trying to frame the words on the page with my corrective lenses I developed a headache and realized that I’d plowed completely through chapter 18 entirely unaware of what it had said. I sighed, put the book down and headed into the kitchen.

Since I was no longer reading, I slid the glasses on top of my head and proceeded to rinse a few dishes. Peering into the darkness on the other side of the window above the sink I noticed an unfamiliar woman staring back at me. My first thought was of course… When did this happen?

Then the next one came barreling down… even more terrifying than the last… In another 17 years, after losing not only my sight and the ability to cross my once-nimble legs beneath me, I will have lost my mind too. Therefore I’ll probably have one of those chains around my neck, dangling from either side of my face so that I never, ever lose them.

Oh sure, I imagine that I’ll “misplace” them from time to time — searching wildly about the house, turning over couch cushions and scattering tubes of BENGAY and bits of mail from AARP… But of course it will only be a matter of time before Lee walks in (with his superior vision) and points out to me that they’ve indeed been on my head the entire time.

For the sake of posterity… here I am… still young “enough” to be sans-chain.

An Honest Confession

Call it narcissism, pride or just the plain, old fear of humiliation… but I have been withholding information. Real-life information that I could be writing about instead of waiting for either divine inspiration or for Lee, the neighbors or Stanley the cat to do something blog-worthy.

I have shared all sorts of embarrassing, self-deprecating information here but for reasons that I am not entirely sure of, I have been avoiding the subject that is probably weighing the heaviest on my mind as of late. My job search. I HATE looking for a job. I know, who in their right mind enjoys it anyway, right? But seriously… I really do hate it. And I feel like I have had a lot of experience in this arena, given that I have moved exactly four times in seven years.

I am frustrated that my phone is not getting blown up by every ad agency, retailer, newspaper, magazine, publisher or corporation to which I have sent my resume. But every day as I ritualistically rush to open my email, checking for word that I am indeed the most desirable graphic designer in the Greater Columbus area… Lee reminds me that I’ve been looking for less than two months (to be exact) and that I WILL find something when the time is right. He also smiles, tells me to stop worrying and chill… And then we watch the latest episode(s) of Wicked Tuna on Nat Geo or Real Time with Bill Maher. Thankfully, Lee is the calm and cool to my cracked-up and crazy.

Even though it has taken me exactly 258 words thus far to get to the REAL point of this post, I felt it was imperative to share with you my heartfelt frustration over the job search and just get that part out of the way. See, this entry is not actually about my feelings over the failure to secure kickass employment at the moment. But rather about WHY it is I’ve been so reluctant to share those feelings at all.

I guess it is one thing to share a story about the simultaneous appearance of acne AND crow’s feet or how I managed to ruin something as culinarily simple as mac and cheese. But it is entirely DIFFERENT to write about something of actual concern to me. There really isn’t all that much fun in appearing weak or vulnerable and admitting that something actually (and not in a fun way) kind of scares you.

I think the biggest reason that I’ve been afraid to put my admissions of fear “out there” for the world to read is that, as a woman (sorry ladies for what I’m about to say… but it is often true) I have been party to juicy conversations, discussions, gossip-fests, etc. regarding the misfortunes of others. For reasons somewhat unbeknownst to me, other people’s misfortune can oftentimes be a source of happiness to some.

Now, I’m sure there are deep-seated sociological and psychological implications in said behavior such as finding one’s own worth to be greater only when basking in the blueish cast of another’s less-than-stellar circumstance. I’m sure it’s quite similar to what your mother taught you about people who try to keep other people down in order to build themselves up. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that it is there. And that has been enough. Enough for me to be hesitant in sharing the truth about a real concern regarding my future.

Yet my hope in writing this is to once and for all peel back the covers on my own insecurity, step in front of anyone—friend or foe—who may or may not have my best interests at heart… and keep right on writing anyway. I’ve been withholding now for far too long.